Being the maidservant of Tenshō-in's something-or-other's something-or-other, her words were most respectful.
"There's something going round. Consumption, I believe they call it ..." "True. In times like these, with heretofore unknown illness about, be it consumption or pestilence, one can never be too careful." "Heed my words. Since the days of the shogunate, much is new and none of it good." "That very well may be."
The maidservant takes this to heart.
"How do you suppose she caught cold? She doesn't go about much ..."
"On the contrary, I'm afraid. She's fallen in with bad company."
The maidservant is effusive, as though poised to reveal some state secret.
"Bad company?" "Yes ma'am. It's that scruffy tomcat from the teacher's place in the front lane." "By teacher, you mean that man who raises a ruckus each morning?" "That's the one. Each time he washes his face. Like a throttled goose in its death throes."
"Throttled goose" is an apt description. That master of mine, each morning when he gargles in the bathroom, makes it a practice to prod his throat with his toothbrush and voice, without reserve, a most curious sound. When his mood is ill, it's an awful "gaagaa" sound. When his spirits are high it's a hearty "gaagaa" sound. In short, regardless of mood it's "gaagaa" for all he's worth. According to the wife, he didn't used to do it in their old place. He just started it out of the blue, and he's never stopped. It's a bothersome practice, and why he insists on continuing it is fully beyond us cats. Setting that aside, the term "scruffy tomcat" was, in my mind, entirely unwarranted. I perked my ears and listened further.